Google fined $7m by streetwise US authorities

The internet search giant has agreed to pay £4.6m to US authorities after it collected people's personal information without permission whilst compiling its Street View mapping service.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The settlement, which has been agreed with 38 states in the country, includes instructions for Google to destroy all emails, passwords and internet browsing histories which were collected as part of the information harvesting process.

It managed to get the information from people’s home Wi-Fi systems as its special Street View cars drove around taking photos of streets and buildings between 2008-2010.

In a statement, the firm said: ‘We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn’t, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue.

‘The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or even look at it. We’re pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement.’

Google is also claiming that the collection of the information was the result of a piece of script put in by a rogue coder which they didn't spot.

Odd how a company that ‘works hard’ to ‘get privacy right’ can accidentally harvest a load of people’s personal information without asking them, eh? An honest mistake, no doubt. And £4.6m is hardly going to hurt Google anyway...

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